Nina’s Baked Mac and Cheese

I wanted to share with you another side dish idea for Thanksgiving. This was my grandmother’s go to mac and cheese. She was always asked to bring her mac and cheese to our family gatherings. She would set it down right in front of everyone and declare ” I’m sure I missed something and it may not be any good.” Of course by the time she finished that sentence the dish would be half gone. I think deep down she knew she had us right when she came walking in with her casserole dish and the scent of cheese wafting through the air. She never wrote down her recipe for her mac and cheese, but I had watched her make it so many times that when she passed away, I had to remember what exactly she put into it. I will confess, it took several attempts before it tasted like hers. A little side fact about my grandmother, when I was little she wanted me to call her Nana, but nope, I always had to be different and instead called her Nina. So from then on she became my Nina. As I have mentioned before, she loved to cook and she was also one who inspired me to cook as well as my mom and dad. Whenever I make this mac and cheese for family or just for hubby and I, I always think of her.

This mac and cheese is more like a mac and cheese pie. You will see plenty versions of this southern side dish at family and church gatherings. It’s layered with noodles and lots of cheese then baked so all of that comes together in one glorious, cheesy goodness…. the ultimate comfort food.

Here’s what you need:

*1 lb elbow macaroni

*2 cups evaporated milk

*1 egg

*1/2 tsp. dry mustard

*pinch of nutmeg

*1/2 tsp. salt, divided

*1/2 stick of butter, cut into small cubes

*3 cups shredded cheddar cheese; I recommend shredding your own cheese and do not buy the kind that is pre shredded in a bag. Those have anti- caking agents so the cheese will not melt as well.

Pre heat oven to 350°.

Boil noodles in salted water one minute less than package directions; drain and set aside.

Whisk together evaporated milk, egg, dry mustard and nutmeg; set aside.

Spray a large casserole dish with no stick spray.

Layer some of the noodles on the bottom of the casserole dish and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. of the salt; add some of the cheese on top of the noodles. Place some of the butter cubes on top of the cheese. Add another layer of noodles and the rest of the salt, then top with the remaining cheese; scatter the remaining butter cubes on top.

Pour the milk and egg mixture evenly over the noodles and cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes then uncover and bake another 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Let it sit about 10 minutes before serving.

Oven Roasted BBQ Bourbon Hot Dogs and Mac and Cheese

I was watching the Food Network recently….ok, so I’m always watching the Food Network and saw a grilling episode where Susie Bulloch was making burnt end hot dogs( https://heygrillhey.com/hot-dog-burnt-ends/#wprm-recipe-container-4713). They look really tasty don’t they? I started thinking, what if I did something similar to that, but in the oven and made the BBQ sauce a bit more interesting, like adding some bourbon. But why stop there, why not have it over some mac and cheese? Yes, please. After I played around with the recipe a bit and announced to hubby what I would be making for dinner, he did pause for a minute, but being the one who is always willing to try my newest food creations….good or bad (and a few in the past have been not so good) he thought that I should make it. It did not disappoint. The hot dogs had a nice bbq flavor with a subtle kick with the bourbon and chipotle powder. It paired really well with the creamy, cheesy mac and cheese. Did I mention that the mac and cheese is all done in one pot? That makes it even better.

Here’s what you need:

For the BBQ Bourbon Hot Dogs:

For The Rub:

*2 pkgs of hot dogs; I used all beef; cut into bite size pieces

*1 TBS mustard

*1 TBS BBQ rub; I like Penzey’s BBQ of the Americas https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/barbecue-of-the-americas/c-24/p-498/pd-s

For The BBQ Bourbon Sauce:

*1 C. your favorite BBQ sauce

*1/4 C. Bourbon

*1/4 tsp. Chipotle powder, or more to taste

*1/2 tsp. onion powder, or more to taste

*1/2 tsp. garlic powder; or more to taste

*2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 225°

In a large bowl add hot dog pieces; add ingredients to the rub to the hot dogs and toss to coat.

Spray a baking pan with no stick spray and pour the hot dogs into the pan. Spread evenly in one layer.

Cook for 1 hour. Mix together all of the ingredients to the BBQ sauce; set aside.

After 1 hour, pour the BBQ sauce over the hot dogs and mix until they are all coated in the sauce.

Raise the oven temperature to 375°

cook for about 20 minutes more.

Stir once more after they come out of the oven.

Just try not to eat them all before you get the mac and cheese made.

I made the mac and cheese while the hot dogs were in the oven after coated with the BBQ sauce.

For the mac and Cheese

*3 1/2 TBS butter

*3 TBS flour

*2 C. milk

*2 1/2 C. water

*1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)

*1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)

*1 tsp. salt or more to taste

*white pepper to taste

*2 1/2 C. elbow macaroni

*1 C. Cheddar cheese

*1 C. Colby Jack cheese

Heat a medium pot to medium high heat; add butter. When the butter melts, add in the flour and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute while stirring. Pour in 3/4 C. of the milk and stir until smooth and it starts to thicken.

add in remaining milk, water and seasonings; stir to combine.

Add macaroni and stir.

When the milk starts to steam, turn the heat down to medium low. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until macaroni is al dente and sauce has thickened; stirring often.

Take off of the heat and stir in the cheeses until melted.

Place a serving of mac and cheese on a plate and top with the BBQ Bourbon Hot Dogs.